COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland has been in close games before -- and they have won them. But down four points with under six minutes to go against an elite defensive team like Purdue, that two-possession deficit had to feel like double digits.
Then Maryland shifted into a gear that would have seemed out-of-character when the season began.
The Terrapins, who have been riding their defense over the past month, completely locked down the Boilermakers over the last six minutes of the game, using a 16-2 run to close out Purdue in a 72-61 victory at XFINITY Center in College Park.
A clutch Robert Carter, Jr. led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds. Rasheed Sulaimon led all scorers with 21. Melo Trimble chipped in 14.
Here are 5 things you need to know.
1) No real surprise how Purdue would start
The Boilermakers have two seven-footers. They get a massive portion of their points inside the paint. So it was no surprise that AJ Hammons had six of Purdue’s first eight points by the under-16 timeout.
The plan for them was two-fold. Obviously Hammons is a good scorer on the interior, but it was also to get five-star Maryland freshman into foul trouble. Stone got one and Turgeon sat him down until the under-12 timeout.
By the under-4, he had picked up his second. He did an admirable job in the interim, though. Hammons and Haas had combined to shoot 5-of-12 by that point.
2) Maryland counters with smart offensive plan
How do you beat size? You either shoot over the top of it or make those bigs move around. Maryland did a little bit of both early on.
Rasheed Sulaimon said it on Friday. As much as Maryland needs to adjust to Purdue, Purdue has to adjust to Maryland. The Terrapins have two frontcourt players in Robert Carter, Jr. and Stone who can step away from the rim and knock down shots.
Carter hit two threes early to jump-start the offense.
3) Terps hit a wall before the half
After pushing the lead to eight points, 18-10, with 11:03 to play, Maryland’s perimeter defense became disorganized. An offensive drought went hand-in-hand with a 10-0 Boilermaker run.
During that run, Maryland missed a series of bunnies around the rim and had turnovers that halted offensive possessions. The result of that is that it hands the keys to Purdue and allows them to dictate the pace.
If the Boilermakers had their way, this would be a slow, grind-it-out defensive game. That is what the final 11 minutes of the second half became. Purdue led, 30-27, at the break.
4) Trying to dictate the pace in the second half
Maryland had fallen in love with the jumper and it was clear out of the half that Turgeon wanted his team to get the ball to the basket. Melo Trimble went there in the first 20 seconds and hit two shots. Jake Layman went and hit two more within the first minute.
In conjunction with that, they pushed the pace. What’s the best way to beat two seven-footers? Make sure they’re still getting back on defense when you’re taking your shot. Trimble and Sulaimon were key in that respect.
But with such a strong defensive opposition, it is hard to pull away. The Terrapins felt in control with around 11 minutes to play, but led by only three points. A 6-0 Purdue run put the Boilermakers back up by three.
5) The run
Four points against a team of this caliber defensively feels like 10. That is where Maryland found itself with 5:58 to play. That was when Robert Carter, Jr. -- who had already been so crucial for them to that point -- hit a corner three in the two-man game with Melo Trimble that turned the tide.
If he doesn’t make that basket, Purdue would have another shot to score the next possession and make it a six- or seven-point game. Carter’s three made it just one.
The next two minutes, Maryland shifted into another gear defensively that likely was not a part of the team’s arsenal when the season began. They locked down. In all, they went on a 16-2 run, stretching into the final minute of the game.
Carter received a standing ovation as he exited the floor.